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Lighten up! HRD ministry nudges states to limit weight of school bags for kids

Drooping shoulders and heavy school bags that almost turn school-going children into beasts of burden may soon be a thing of the past.

Lighten up! HRD ministry nudges states to limit weight of school bags for kids
The steps for the same have been taken by several states, however, some continue the old norms. (Representative image: AFP)

Drooping shoulders and heavy school bags that almost turn school-going children into beasts of burden may soon be a thing of the past. In its bid to guard the health and physical development of school students, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has asked states to come up with regulations that limit the weight of school bags depending upon the classes they are in. In its circular to Education department authorities of all states, the ministry has requested all state school departments to formulate guidelines that can regulate the weight of the school bags that are carried by the students.

The steps for the same have been taken by several states, however, some continue the old norms. The circular for the new rules has been released by the Directorate of Education, Lakshadweep Administration and it directs all school in the UT to adhere to the new rules.

The circular states that “the Ministry of HRD has instructed all the states and Union Territories to formulate guidelines to regulate the teaching of subjects and weight of school bag in accordance with the Government of India’ instructions.” The circular also states that according to the new rules, schools in the UT shall not assign homework to the students to class I and II. It also states that students should not be asked to bring additional books and other materials.

The notice also includes the new set limit for the weight of the school bags class-wise.

Class I and II-1.5 kgs
Class III to V- 2-3 kgs
Class VI and VII –4 kgs
Class VIII and IX- 4.5 kgs
Class Xth – 5 Kg

An ASSOCHAM survey conducted in 2016 found that because of a load of books in the bags of children, 68 per cent children that fall in the age group of 7 to 13 years face the risk of backaches and even hunchbacks. The survey had also noted that over 88% of students in the same age group carry more than 45 per cent of their own weight on their backs. These heavy bags that included textbooks, activity books, swim kit, lunch box and other things are factors that can lead to serious spinal damage and even irreversible back problems.

Earlier this year, the Haryana government had decided to do away with school bags for the primary section. Ram Bilas Sharma, the state Education Minister was quoted by PTI saying, “We have decided that students would go to primary schools without bags.”

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